Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

In this Aug. 30, 2005, file photo, floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina fill the streets near downtown New Orleans. Two New Orleans universities, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and a government contractor are defendants in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging fraud involving more than $100 million in Hurricane Katrina aid.

The Associated Press

Two New Orleans universities, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and a government contractor are defendants in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging fraud involving more than $100 million in Hurricane Katrina aid.

The 2016 federal lawsuit was unsealed Wednesday by the U.S. District Court in New Orleans. Katrina struck in 2005, causing extensive damage in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Federal court records show one defendant, Xavier University, has reached a settlement. An attorney for the university confirmed that the settlement included a payment of $12 million.

Story continues below advertisement

The suit alleges that false claims resulted in millions of dollars for projects at Xavier and Dillard universities, and for an archdiocese school.

The lawsuit was filed by an employee of the contractor, AECOM. The company denied wrongdoing and vowed to “vigorously defend” the work it did after the storm. The U.S. Justice Department joined the suit last week.

“It’s disappointing that 15 years after Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Government wants to claw back funds from educational institutions that endured so much damage from the impact of the storm,” the contractor’s statement said. “AECOM deployed immediately to New Orleans after the hurricane in 2005 and worked side-by-side with its residents and institutions to help rebuild the city and get students back into school.”

The archdiocese, which has filed for bankruptcy reorganization amid numerous lawsuits involving sexual abuse by priests, also denied wrongdoing and noted that the suit was filed more than a decade after the storm.

“Every dollar of FEMA funds received has gone back into the restoration of parish, school, and other properties to serve the people of the Greater New Orleans community,” a statement from the archdiocese said. “We deny the allegation that the Archdiocese of New Orleans knowingly conspired to submit false information. We have co-operated with the Federal Government’s investigation and will continue to work with them as we resolve this claim.”

Among the lawsuit’s allegations is that Xavier received $6.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency “based on the misrepresentation that Katrina had severely damaged the gymnasium’s concrete, floating slab foundation when, in fact, the building had no such foundation.” Millions more went to other projects based on misrepresentations, the suit alleges.

Xavier’s attorney, James Garner, declined to comment on specifics in the lawsuit but stressed that the federal government relied heavily on AECOM to handle applications for aid.

Story continues below advertisement

Garner noted the strong record of Xavier, a historically black university, in sending African American students to medical schools. “Doing that is best served by resolving this and moving ahead with educating people,” he said.

The suit alleges that Dillard received millions for inflated estimates of building damage.

Dillard, also a historically black university, noted in an emailed statement that the federal government, while intervening in the suit, is not pursuing claims against Dillard. “We will refrain from commenting further until we receive additional guidance from the court and DOJ regarding the conditions of the seal,” the statement said.

Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm has been blamed for as many as 1,800 deaths. Levee breaches in New Orleans led to catastrophic flooding, including in parts of the city that are home to Xavier and Dillard. There have been numerous disputes over government payouts for damages over the years.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies